8 lessons in funding your own dreams

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  • 1. 8 lessons in funding your own dreams Gaurav Bhatnagar Tekriti Software
  • 2. The beginning
    • On New Year’s eve of 2004, three friends holidaying in Las Vegas promised to do business together on day.
    • But It all really began with an innocuous comment on a blog post
  • 3.  
  • 4. The First Challenge “ Put up something – anything – that works and does something” Original slide removed for sake of privacy . Relevant text from email mentioned above
  • 5. The First Challenge
    • Here we were, two ex-MSFTies with no experience in web development or open source technologies.
    • But 15 days is a long time.
  • 6. We were in business! Original slide removed for sake of privacy. Relevant text from email mentioned above “ Wow! Coolio dude. Ready to start?”
  • 7. Lesson #1: Its not about the big idea
    • Entrepreneurship is not about a big idea. It is about grabbing on to the smallest opportunity and building on top of it. It is not about thinking, planning or funding. It is ALL about DOING!
  • 8. The First Office
    • At 400 sqft and seating capacity of 7, the first office seemed big enough to last us a couple of years.
    • (We out grew it in 60 days)
    • 917 Galleria has since housed 3 other successful startups (talk about good Vastu)
  • 9. The second, third and fourth office
    • In the first six months of business, we grew in to three tiny offices.
    • Then we took our first real risk.
  • 10. The first real risk We rented space for 36. But we were only 12 at that time. Not sure why we did that. But it worked.
  • 11. Lesson #2: start small, but think big
    • It is prudent to start small when you are bootstrapping. But plan to grow big.
    • Luck usually does favor the brave.
  • 12. The First Hires
    • When we first started hiring, we had no office, no website, not even a name for our company.
    • Needless to say, the first hires were braver than us to join this no-name company.
  • 13. Working with freshers
    • Our first 5 hires were all fresh out of college.
    • We had no money to hire experienced people.
    • Working with freshers has been the most enriching experience of my startup life so far.
  • 14. Lesson#3: inexpensive != cheap
    • Identifying and nurturing raw talent lies at the very heart of building a bootstrapped company.
    • What they lack in knowledge, they make up for it with energy and passion.
  • 15. Attracting talent
    • More than half of the first 10 offers we made got rejected.
    • In India, startups, especially bootstrapped startups, aren’t that sexy.
  • 16. Tekriti campus placement ’06-’07 Why work for a startup? Working in a Big company is like flying in a Boeing Safe, comfortable, predictable. Comes with seat belts and cute air hostesses! Working in a Startup is like inventing the airplane Unpredictable, risky, adventurous, pioneering Seat belts? Heck, there are no seats even!
  • 17. Tekriti campus placement ’06-’07 Why work for Tekriti? Create. Innovate. Invent.
  • 18. Tekriti campus placement ’06-’07 Why work for Tekriti? Wealth of experience. Wealth of knowledge. Wealth of $$$
  • 19. Lesson#4: Sex appeal is important
    • It attracts talent.
    • It attracts clients.
    • It attracts attention.
    • It makes you feel good (even when you are broke)
  • 20. Building the culture
    • The DNA of the company gets established in the first year of existence.
    • Our motto was simple
    • Work hard. Play harder. Make history.
    • Flexi timings. No dress code. Party for no reason. Being proud of night outs. Free lunches.
  • 21. Tekriti campus placement ’06-’07 Work hard. Play harder. Make history.
  • 22. Lesson#5: A company without culture is like a body without soul
    • It will not happen by itself. Building the culture requires hard work (but fortunately little money)
    • Every startup needs to build a culture that glamorizes hard work, encourages having fun and emphasizes on cost consciousness.
  • 23. Becoming a “real” company
    • Company badges and swipe cards
    • HR policies
    • Leave tracking
    • Status reports
    • Performance reviews
    • Sounds like bureaucracy but it isn’t.
  • 24. Lesson#6: Don’t take the “startup” thing too far
    • To scale a company, rules and policies are a must. They create a feeling of belonging.
    • Lack of policies creates fear and uncertainty in the mind of employees.
    • Beyond the first 5 employees, its not enough to say “as long as work is getting done…”
  • 25. Selling
    • We used our blogs very effectively. We were honest and passionate. And it showed.
    • We worked with other startups
    • We organized India’s first barcamp.
    • We contributed to open source projects.
    • We kept our first clients happy who made referrals for us.
  • 26. Lesson#7: If you can’t sell, you might as well go home
    • A bootstrapped startup starts selling on day one and it never stops. You sell before you produce. You sell before you hire.
    • As long as you can sell, you are in business.
    • SELL! SELL! SELL!
  • 27. Doing services and products together
    • Conventional wisdom says its not possible.
    • We did it anyway. Twice.
  • 28. TBO is today’s one of India’s largest online travel consolidator with a strength of 150 in 15 cities.
  • 29. USourceIT is now VC funded with presence in both India and the US
  • 30. Lesson#8: Funding product dreams with services money is hard but possible
    • First and foremost, DON’ T KILL THE CASH COW!
    • You services business is your first born – don’t treat it like a step child.
    • Fix budgets and make hard decisions. The product business either stands on its own feet or it folds up.
  • 31. In conclusion
    • Hindsight is 20:20.
    • We made big mistakes and often came dangerously close to the edge.
    • All we can take credit for is having actually had the courage to startup without a big idea and any funding.
    • So in the end, there is only one lesson
  • 32. The only lesson
    • SLOG! SLOG! SLOG!
    • No body died of hard work. But several entrepreneurs came close!
    • THANK YOU!